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Mundane mobilities, performaces and spaces of tourism

Edensor, Timothy J. (2007) Mundane mobilities, performaces and spaces of tourism. Social and cultural geography, 8 (2). pp. 199-215. ISSN 1470-1197

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Abstract

Tourism is commonly understood as an exception or special time, a period when the normal everyday constraints are suspended: tourists are temporarily immersed in spaces of difference, free from the bounds of home and work, and may transgress their ordinary 'appropriate' performances. This article questions the extent to which much mass tourism is 'extraordinary', suggesting instead that it is more typically associated with habitual routine, cultural conventions and normative performances which circumscribe what should be gazed upon and visited, and modes of touristic comportment and recording. These conventions are also managed by the directors of the tourist product and encouraged by the production of distinct, serial forms of tourist space in which cultural differences are tamed for easy consumption. The paper argues that such forms of performance and their staging are designed to maximize comfort, a touristic desire that should not necessarily be the focus of critical scorn. On the other hand, so managed can the tourist experience become, that there are frequent attempts - often thwarted - to escape the tourist enclaves and schedules and become more closely acquainted with difference. Tourism then, because it is not separate from the quotidian, is an exemplary site for an exploration of the ways in which the everyday is replete with unreflexive practice and habit but simultaneously provokes desires for unconfined alterity.

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